Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Telltale Games
Release Date: 08/02/2016
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Batman has seen a great run over the last decade or so with Christopher Nolan’s film trilogy, the Arkham game trilogy, and now a story-driven adventure game. Batman tells a story I have personally never heard with the game digging into Bruce Wayne’s darker past and finally revealing the truth about his parents and discovering their past. The game isn’t’ afraid to kill off characters and actually become quite violent, and I was hooked every last minute, but it’s not the story or characters that have issues, but Telltale’s tired way of telling these stories.
I’ll have to give them credit, they cleaned up the graphics engine a bit and the button prompts and commands look sleeker, especially during action sequences, but the game is still an interactive movie, probably more so than any other Telltale adventure game. Rarely do you get to actually control Batman or Bruce and only during investigative scenes to link clues together? This is one gameplay element that’s been used multiple times and I like it, but it’s not really a puzzle either. You walk around examining clues and can link two of them together to figure out what happened at a crime scene. It’s easy and obvious which clues go together, so some better puzzle solving would have been nice.
The second gameplay segment is dialog choices and most are timed just like previous Telltale games, but I feel the smaller dialog choices have less of an impact. The game will tell you when someone will notice or remember what you said, but unlike The Walking Dead, I don’t know when that comes into play. The Walking Dead is done so well I can recall what I said in a previous decision that made that character act the way they do, now either the writing is so good it’s that seamless or it was an afterthought. I want to know when my choices change things, even the little ones. There are times when you have to make two large choices that obviously will affect the story, but these are immediate changes that you see in front of you.
The third gameplay segment is quick-time events, but they’re sleek and feel part of the action. Of course, these are incredibly easy and I never once messed up as the game gives you plenty of time to hit the button prompts to see the well-choreographed fight scenes play out that are actually quite cool. Outside of those three gameplay segments, there’s no other gameplay present. Puzzles are seriously lacking as they gave the Arkham games some brainpower behind all that fighting and I feel the game could have been better enjoyed more as a game with these put in.
Thankfully, you’ll just mow through the 5 episodes that take less than an hour each to complete because the story is so good. Seeing the origins of Harvey Dent become Two-Face, The Joker, Catwoman, Gordan, and seeing Bruce face his own dark past is just cool, especially for a Batman fan such as myself. It tells a story that no other medium has told and that’s what got me hooked. I don’t want another origin story as to how Bruce became Batman, I don’t want to see him fight more villains and fight his inner demons. The dredging up the past and seeing Bruce and Batman actually fail and become nothing is fantastic and makes Batman seem vulnerable and adds depth to the story arc.
Overall, Batman: The Telltale Series is a must-play for any Batman fan. I don’t think non-Batman fans will care for this game, especially when knowing more about the lore and arc of the series makes the game that much more interesting. The visuals are decent, but I’m tired of seeing Telltales comic-looking graphics and they are dated and full of bugs and problems still. I ran into graphical glitches, crashes, and at one point my Xbox shut down mid-game for no reason. The voice acting is top-notch and the overall production values are good, but I’m tired of Telltale’s way of telling stories in the same manner for every game. Smaller dialog options are lost in the seamless transition between scenes and only the larger choices stand out which is a shame. Towards the end of the game, I stopped caring about which choices I made outside of the large ones because I wasn’t seeing any differences. Even at the last dialog scene with Alfred in episode 5, the game said “Alfred will remember that” but why? It’s the last scene with him and it won’t make a difference if he remembers it or not. With that said, this is a great story and not much else.